We want our movies to have compelling beginnings, tension-filled middles, and satisfying ends that won't leave us sobbing under our beds when we get home. Well, unless you're European, in which case the last part is debatable. Unfortunately, the real world doesn't work the way we want, and some movies you thought ended on a hopeful note have some truly dark codas tacked on the end. Like ...
Meet Olivia Jackson, the stuntwoman who made Furiosa so badass:
Warner Bros. Pictures
On top of performing stunts in movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Jackson also served as the stunt double for Guardian Of The Galaxy's Nebula -- who, like Furiosa, has a robotic arm (which she removes at one point). Sadly, Jackson ended up having way more in common with her characters than she would've liked after performing a stunt that involved driving a motorcycle next to a metal camera arm. When the rig malfunctioned and failed to lift off, Jackson crashed straight into it, damaging most of her body -- especially her arm, which had to be amputated.
On top of everything, this horrifying accident happened during the making of the latest Resident Evil, a movie eight people saw and two will remember (only one of them fondly). Jackson has been documenting her recovery on her Instagram, where she mentions that she was left with a "[skew] spine, off-centered neck (the most painful part), twisted shoulder blade, permanently dislocated shoulder, 1 arm, muscle atrophy on the left hand side of my core & plenty more other treats." Even still, she wants to get back to stunts as soon as she can. Here's hoping scriptwriters keep going with the "badass one-armed woman" trope.
The man behind (well, inside) Alien's xenomorph was Bolaji Badejo, a Nigerian visual artist with no prior acting experience. He was cast in the role because of his exquisitely lean physique and height of between 6'10" and 7'2". No, that doesn't mean he was a shapeshifter; sources vary, probably because when you're that tall, either no one cares to measure anymore, or no one dares.
So what did he do after helping create one of the most enduring movie monsters ever? He went back to Nigeria and spent the '80s slowly succumbing to the effects of sickle cell anemia -- a hereditary disease that causes chronic, long-lasting pain and damage to organs. He finally died in 1992 at age 39, with the original Alien as his only film credit, which at least means he has a more consistent IMDb page than Ridley Scott.
Then there's the sad fate of the original Predator from Predator, Kevin Peter Hall, who stood at a well-documented 7'2'' and remains the only character in movie history to have kicked Arnold Schwarzenegger's ass in a credible manner.
20th Century Fox
After filming the second movie, Hall was in a car accident, which he survived, only to receive a blood transfusion that infected him with AIDS. Less than a year later, Hall died of complications from pneumonia. Here's hoping he's cloaked up in Heaven now, firing energy bolts at God.
One of the most quietly powerful moments in Creed (aka Rocky VII: Adrian's Revenge) is when Rocky talks about his son. The camera actually shows us a photo of Sylvester Stallone and his real-life kid, Sage, who played Rocky Jr. in Rocky V.
Rocky says that while his son lives in Vancouver and they barely talk, he's happy that the kid is living his own life. This is especially touching when you remember the scene in 2006's Rocky Balboa when Rocky gives an inspirational speech to the adult Rocky Jr. about daring to follow his own path in life without blaming others (*cough* his famous dad *cough*) for his failures. It's all very heartfelt and meaningful ...
... except for the fact that that's not Sage in that scene. That's the scrawny dude from Heroes. Sage either turned down the role or just didn't get the call from his dad. Neither scenario is very surprising when you consider how ... rocky their relationship was. Those scenes in Rocky V wherein a young Rocky Jr. yells at his dad for never spending time with him? Sage claimed he wasn't acting. Later, Sly called him out in the media for "[avoiding] the gym like the plague" and doing weird-ass films solely to "put himself in a position in which he'll never have to be compared to me." Suddenly the Rocky Balboa speech sounds less like fatherly advice and more like bitchy passive-aggression.
Meanwhile, Sage directed a short film about some washed-up Hollywood has-been that Sly reportedly didn't like for who knows what reason. Any chance of the two patching things up ended when Sage suddenly passed away from a heart attack in 2012, at age 36. So maybe Rocky didn't want to bum Creed's kid out, and made up the thing about Vancouver.
Leaving Las Vegas is a bleak film that reminds us there was a time when Nicolas Cage was actually a good actor, rather than a voodoo-practicing, pyramid-building madman screaming about bees. It's a movie about a man who sells all his possessions and moves to Las Vegas to drink himself to death, so we're already off to a pleasant start.
Cage's character finally dies after making love to his prostitute paramour, which is probably symbolic of man being reborn through love or something, right? Nope! It's symbolic of the author being depressed as hell and eventually killing himself too.
The movie is based on a semi-autobiographical book by author John O'Brien, who had a similar struggle with alcohol addiction. In and out of rehab, and only precariously sober long enough to crank out the books that became his legacy, O'Brien's life was easily as dark as his fictional counterpart's. Now, you might think that hitting the big time and finding out your work is about to be adapted by an acclaimed film director would help with the whole "depression" thing, but nope. O'Brien never managed to overcome his demons, and wound up committing suicide a couple weeks after signing over the film rights to Leaving Las Vegas. Anyway, here are some bunnies.
Free Willy and its sequels follow the journey of a young orca in captivity, and the humans who try to guide it to freedom. It was a massive hit. So massive, in fact, that it inspired an organization to free the whale who portrayed Willy, an Icelandic-owned orca named Keiko. The Free Willy-Keiko Foundation received funding from Warner Bros. studios, as well as from children and schools around the world.
With pressure building, the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources worked to integrate Keiko back into the wild and orca society. It ... didn't work out. Released from Iceland in 2002, Keiko made a beeline for Norway, a nearly thousand-mile journey that was thought to be a search for its human caretakers. Once in Scandinavian waters, the whale refused to integrate into whale society. Trackers found that Keiko kept swimming up to boats and trying to interact with humans, who probably had no idea they were giving the cold shoulder to a film star.
Unwilling or unable to fend for himself, Keiko eventually died of a combination of undernourishment and pneumonia in 2003, less than a year after being released. But at least everyone involved learned a valuable lesson: Never try anything, because everything is horrible. The end.
Taylor Daine is an Indianapolis-based person who tweets at @turtledovejones. Rani Baker created the surreal horror video games DEATH SWORD and YOU CAN'T GO HOME, among others. You can keep up to date about her projects (and get free stuff!) on her Patreon. You can see Tiagosvn's depressing real-life epilogue to this article on his Twitter.
The guy who financed Keiko's reintroduction also had a terrible epilogue to this story too -- check out Money From Thin Air: The Story of Craig McCaw for more.
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